HALIFAX, NS. – The U SPORTS AUS football season is beginning to rev its engines with games starting on August 26, but there is still a clear favourite amongst the league.
2023 will be the 63rd season in AUS history, and just like last season, there is a “David vs Goliath” theme amongst the league, which is between STFX and the rest of the AUS. The X-Men begin the season with a leg up on the competition, as they already know how to win in the AUS.
STFX have not lost a game against AUS competition in two years, and there is good reason to believe they can keep this streak going. The X-Men only lose two starters after dominating the past season with a relatively young squad. They will be running it back with MVP Malcolm Bussey- who is only going into his third year- after leading the league in yards, yards per game, touchdowns and volume of rushes; there is no reason for him to slow down.
They also have a guy who led the league in almost every passing statistic taking the snap, in 2021 MVP Silas Fagnan. In 2022 the team was highlighted by 14 different all-stars, the most amongst the AUS. The team led in every significant offensive or defensive statistic, and they are just getting more experience. There is no reason to doubt the X-Men as they have run this league over the past two seasons, and they give no evidence to believe that they will fall off.
While the team that made the Loney Bowl last year, Mount Allison, may seem like the obvious choice to be the second favourite coming into next season, Bishop’s has been close to getting it done the past few years.
Could the Gaiters prove a challenger?
After going 0-8 in the 2018 season, it has been nothing but progress for Bishop’s ever since. Before last season they had made it to the Loney Bowl every season and were 10 minutes away from getting there again. Their quarterback room is something to be excited about, as they split time between junior Mason McGriskin and freshman Justin Quirion last year. While McGriskin had a successful year, Quirion appears to be the future of Bishop’s as he took over in the second half of the year and was trusted to lead the Gaiters into their playoff game against Mount Allison.
Quirion’s job will be made easier by junior AUS all-star David Chaloux. Bishop’s is coming off a year where they finished second in the league at 4-3, and their defence was the second best last year even though they don’t have the turnover numbers like STFX. The defence last year featured two AUS all-stars and will be led by linebacker Liam Patton as he tries to add to his all-star sophomore year.
While going 0-8 is a tough season, there is nowhere to go but up for the Acadia Axemen.
Experience is vital for the Axemen this season, as last year they had an incredibly young team, but they showed flashes despite their abysmal record. They have a promising young quarterback room with Mitchell Tufts and Dante Tabacu. They also have experience on other collegiate teams, where Tufts played under Silas Fagnan at STFX before last year.
The Acadia program has also proven that they can win, having the third most titles in the league behind Saint Mary’s and STFX. It is also hard to doubt that head coach Jeff Cummins can turn this ship around as the six-time AUS coach of the year and two-time U SPORTS coach of the year goes into his 20th season with the program.
If Quirion can take the starting job for Bishop’s, there is optimism that the sophomore quarterback could have a breakout season for the team. Quirion looked excellent once he came in after the first quarter against StFX. Had had two great wins versus SMU and Acadia, where he threw for an average of 208 yards per game.
As stated above, he competed well in the playoff game against Mount Allison. With this momentum building up, Quirion is poised for a big 2023 season.
The 2023 season is upon us in what can be guaranteed to be an excellent year for U SPORTS AUS football.